Queen of the Castles: Freya Ridings is taking Aussie radio by storm
British singer-songwriter Freya Ridings is another example of how a song’s lifespan isn’t always so straightforward.
‘Lost Without You’ was released in November 2017 and after being met with little initial traction, the song finally had a resurgence in July 2018 when it debuted on the UK Singles Chart.
It finally peaked at #9 in October 2018 before being announced as one of the Top 20 downloaded songs from a British female artist.
“I never thought it would do as well as it has, I played it at open mic nights for so many years and nothing had happened,” Ridings tells TMN.
“For me, it was more about letting it out into the world and finding my inner peace with that difficult break-up.
“But after it went into the charts it really hit me how special of a moment it was because it’s a song that doesn’t have drums, has no production and is just me at a piano,” she explains.
It was a slow burn that is becoming more common due to the over-saturation of releases thanks to streaming culture, with the likes of Lizzo having breakthrough success and charting with a song that was released two years ago.
Watch Freya perform ‘Lost Without You’
Earlier this year ‘Lost Without You’ had another resurgence after America’s Got Talent winner Kodi Lee performed it during the finals and introduced the song to a new market.
During the early moments of our chat, it became evident there were a lot of self-doubts early on for Ridings overcome, stemming from a childhood where she felt like a bit of an outcast.
She explains that she was shy and bullied in school, so she found herself taking to the playground and impersonating pop stars like Anastacia, singing ‘I’m Outta Love’ under her breath. She used music to fill a void.
“I think when you’re young and you’re shaping how you feel about yourself, the music you listen to really defines you and you kinda imprint on those early records,” she reflects.
“For me, it’s the early Florence + The Machine records as well as The Blues Brothers, Aretha Franklin and Anastacia.
“It was in those imprinting years of being five-15 and listening to that fiery, rebellious and soulful music of those people that when they sing you know they are telling the truth.”
From those early moments, she knew what sort of artist she wanted to be and the storyteller she wanted to become, but it was met with a lot of criticism and roadblocks she had to fight through.
“I’d been told growing up that my songs were too sad and that no woman really got to write her own album these days.
“That felt so wrong, it set off the fiery and rebellious side of me, where I was like I’m going to find a way to make the record I’ve always wanted to create.”
And she has. Her debut self-titled record is an impressive collection of soulful, heartfelt pop that sees her writing a strong percentage of the album and the rest with only one other collaborator per track.
“The ratio is still kinda terrifying. As a young female artist, they put you in a room with 10 men double your age and that’s honestly not going to bring out the best in everyone.
“I find songwriting a really vulnerable experience, and you need to really find people you trust. And still writing on my own in that seclusion and loneliness is so important for my personal process.”
Watch Freya perform ‘Love Is Fire’ live in London:
But one songwriter and producer she did work with on ‘Love Is Fire’ was the late Busbee.
Reminiscing on her session with Busbee, she credits his country background and his emotional intelligence for providing a comfortable space.
“He definitely came from a place where he put more of an emphasis on the lyrics which I really respected.
“We started the song on the piano which I find really raw because your starting with the bare bones and work on the melody and lyrics at the piano before thinking about the production,” she explains before adding, “The best writers are the people who let you just speak your truth and don’t try to use their fear to get in the way of it.”
This year has been monumental for Ridings, from the release of her debut album to selling out her headlining tour to performing at Glastonbury and Isle Of Wight, she’s truly a star on the rise.
In Australia, her recent single ‘Castles’ is currently climbing the charts with growing support from commercial radio, and one spot away from breaking Top 10 on the TMN Hot 100 Airplay Chart powered by Radio Monitor.
“The final master is very similar to the demo we made on the first day, it didn’t really change at all.
“It was one of the easiest tracks because it came together so purely and felt like one of the most honest songs I had ever written up to that point in my life”.
From being the young girl who used to sing to herself in the playground, to where she is at now in her career, she hopes that people find the importance of self-belief within her music and start to champion each other.
“There is so much power to be found in coming together and supporting each other.
“It’s not the most given thing anymore, and it’s almost the most rebellious thing you could do. So when young girls come up to me after the show and say they want to play the guitar and write songs, it’s the extra level of gratitude I have for getting to do this.
“Playing the guitar, piano and singing made me really uncool growing up, and now for it to be the thing that I’m really proud of and sharing to a lot of young and fiery women is so special. But it’s not a given so we have to fight for it.”